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Immigration Library™

Work Permit (WP)

Work Permit


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Canada has many different programs for foreign nationals to work in the country temporarily. The pathways are divided between:

  • Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) (➨page), 
  • International Mobility Program (IMP) (➨page), and
  • Work Authorization without Work Permit

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) allows Canadian employers to respond to genuine labour shortages by allowing them to hire internationally. Under TFWP employers must first apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) (➨ to determine if they can hire a foreign worker to fill labour or skills shortages on a temporary basis.

Under the International Mobility Program (IMP), Canadian employers may hire foreign workers on a Canada work permit without the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment.

The main distinction between the TFWP and IMP is that the TFWP needs an LMIA while IMP is exempt from it.

There are two (2) broad types of work permit:

  • Employer-specific work permit, and
  • Open work permit.

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Work Authorization Pathways

Basically there are three ways you may be authorized to work in Canada:

1- Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (➨Page) allows employers in Canada to hire foreign nationals. Unless you fall under one of the exemption codes of the International Mobility program, your employer must apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment and receive an approval from the government to hire you.

The purpose of the LMIA is to ensure that there is no negative impact on the Canadian workers when you arrive in Canada as a temporary worker.

2- International Mobility Program (IMP)

The International Mobility Program (IMP) (➨Page) allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers without an LMIA if the position helps Canada’s cultural and economic interests. This makes for faster processing and a much simpler application process than that of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which requires an LMIA and is labour market dependent.

Under IMP your work permit may be an open work permit or it can be job-specific. Some of the most common LMIA-exempt streams under the International Mobility Program (IMP) are listed below.
  • Post Graduation Work Permit (➨Page) R205(c) – C43
  • Self-employed Business Owners (➨Page) R205(a) – C11
  • Business PR Candidates (➨Page) R205(a) – C60
  • The Intra-Company Transfer Program (➨Page) R205(a) – C61, C62, C63 (Previously C12)
  • The Start-up Visa Program (➨Page) R205(a) – A77
  • The Bridging Open Work Permit (➨Page) R205(a) – A75
  • Students – Co-op and Internship Programs (➨Page) R205(c) – C32, C33
  • Spouse of Foreign Workers (➨Page) R205(c) – C41
  • Spouse of Foreign Students (➨Page) R205(c) – C42
  • Mobilité Francophone Program (➨Page) R205(a) – C16
  • Provincial Nominee Programs (➨Page) R204(c) – T13
  • Atlantic Immigration Program (➨Page) R204(c) – C18
  • Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (➨Page) R205(a) – C15
  • International Experience Canada (➨Page) R205(b) – C21
  • International Free Trade Agreements R204 (FTA, GATS, CETA/CUKTCA, CPTPP)
  • International Mobility Program Plus (IMP+) – Work Permit for Quebec Skilled Workers (➨Page) R205(a) – A76

To see a list of LMIA exemption Codes, see (➨

3- Work Authorization without Work Permit

Some temporary short-term works in Canada don’t require a work permit under certain conditions. You may not need a work permit if your work is in the following list and in Canada for short periods of time:
  • Athlete or coach
  • Aviation accident or incident investigator
  • Business visitor
  • Civil aviation inspector
  • Convention organizer
  • Crew member
  • Emergency service provider
  • Examiner and evaluator
  • Expert witness or investigator
  • Family member of foreign representative
  • Foreign government officer or representative
  • Health care student
  • Judge, referee or similar official
  • Military personnel
  • News reporter or film and media crew
  • Producer or staff member working on advertisements
  • Performing artist
  • Public speaker
  • Religious leader
  • Short-term highly-skilled worker
  • Short-term researcher
  • Student working off-campus
  • Student working on-campus

To see a list of Work Permit exemptions, see (➨

Types of Work Permit

There are two (2) types of work permit:

  • Employer-specific work permit
  • Open work permit

An open work permit is a work permit that is not job-specific. Because it is not job-specific, you will not need the LMIA and you will not need and offer of employment when you apply for your work permit.

Although an open work permits are not job specific, they may be occupation-restricted work permit. An eligible person may work for any employer under an occupation-restricted open permit, but the job for which they must work will be specified.

The following persons may be eligible for an open work permit:

  • An international student who are eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP) (➨page)
  • A student who is no longer able to meet the costs of your studies (destitute student)
  • A person who has an employer-specific work permit and are being abused or at risk of being abused in relation to your job in Canada
  • A person who has applied for permanent residence or who is a dependent family member of someone who applied for permanent residence in Canada (certain situations)
  • Spouse or common-law partner of a skilled worker or international student
  • Spouse or common-law partner of an applicant of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (➨page)
  • A refugee, refugee claimant, protected person or their family member
  • A person under an unenforceable removal order
  • A temporary resident permit holder
  • A young worker participating in special programs



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